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Netanyahu says he won't agree to a deal that ends the war in Gaza, testing the latest truce proposal

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Netanyahu says he won't agree to a deal that ends the war in Gaza, testing the latest truce proposal
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Netanyahu says he won't agree to a deal that ends the war in Gaza, testing the latest truce proposal

2024-06-25 06:16 Last Updated At:06:20

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The viability of a U.S.-backed proposal to wind down the 8-month-long war in Gaza has been cast into doubt after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would only be willing to agree to a “partial” cease-fire deal that would not end the war, comments that sparked an uproar from families of hostages held by Hamas.

In an interview broadcast late Sunday on Israeli Channel 14, a conservative, pro-Netanyahu station, the Israeli leader said he was “prepared to make a partial deal — this is no secret — that will return to us some of the people,” referring to the roughly 120 hostages still held in the Gaza Strip. “But we are committed to continuing the war after a pause, in order to complete the goal of eliminating Hamas. I’m not willing to give up on that.”

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Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The viability of a U.S.-backed proposal to wind down the 8-month-long war in Gaza has been cast into doubt after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would only be willing to agree to a “partial” cease-fire deal that would not end the war, comments that sparked an uproar from families of hostages held by Hamas.

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Netanyahu’s comments did not deviate dramatically from what he has said previously about his terms for a deal. But they come at a sensitive time, as Israel and Hamas appear to be moving further apart over the latest cease-fire proposal, and they could represent another setback for mediators trying to end the war.

Netanyahu's comments stood in sharp contrast to the outlines of the deal detailed late last month by U.S. President Joe Biden, who framed the plan as an Israeli one and which some in Israel refer to as “Netanyahu’s deal.” His remarks could further strain Israel's ties to the U.S., its top ally, which launched a major diplomatic push for the latest cease-fire proposal.

The three-phased plan would bring about the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. But disputes and mistrust persist between Israel and Hamas over how the deal plays out.

Hamas has insisted it will not release the remaining hostages unless there’s a permanent cease-fire and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. When Biden announced the latest proposal, he said it included both.

But Netanyahu says Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, and ensuring it can never again carry out an Oct. 7-style assault. A full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, where Hamas’ top leadership and much of its forces are still intact, would almost certainly leave the group in control of the territory and able to rearm.

In the interview, Netanyahu said the current phase of fighting is ending, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, in what could open up a new war front. But he said that didn't mean the war in Gaza was over.

On Monday, Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant discussed tensions on the border with Lebanon during his trip to Washington with Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to Biden. He echoed Netanyahu's comments that the war in Gaza is transitioning to a new phase, which could impact other conflicts, including with Hezbollah.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Gallant that it was critical to avoid escalating the conflict in the Middle East and find a resolution that “allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes.”

Israel is close to dismantling the Hamas military brigades in the southern city of Rafah, and maintains "full control” over the Philadelphi Corridor, a strategic buffer zone along Gaza's border with Egypt, Israel’s military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said. Israel says the corridor is awash with tunnels that Hamas uses to smuggle weapons and other goods. Halevi said Israel's control over the buffer zone will bring an end to that.

During the initial six-week phase of the proposed cease-fire, the sides are supposed to negotiate an agreement on the second phase, which Biden said would include the release of all remaining living hostages including male soldiers and Israel’s full withdrawal from Gaza. The temporary cease-fire would become permanent.

Hamas appears concerned that Israel will resume the war once its most vulnerable hostages are returned. And even if it doesn’t, Israel could make demands in that stage of negotiations that were not part of the initial deal and are unacceptable to Hamas — and then resume the war when Hamas refuses them.

Netanyahu’s remarks reinforced that concern. After they were aired, Hamas said they represented “unmistakable confirmation of his rejection” of the U.S.-supported deal, which also received the backing of the United Nations’ Security Council.

In a statement late Sunday after Netanyahu’s lengthy TV interview, the Palestinian militant group said his position was “in contrast” to what the U.S. administration said Israel had approved. The group said its insistence that any deal should include a permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip “was an inevitable necessity to block Netanyahu’s attempts of evasion, deception, and perpetuation of aggression and the war of extermination against our people.”

Netanyahu shot back and in a statement from his office said Hamas opposed a deal. He said Israel would not withdraw from Gaza until all 120 hostages are returned.

Hamas welcomed the broad outline of the U.S. plan but proposed what it said were “amendments.” During a visit to the region earlier this month, Blinken said some of Hamas' demands were “workable” and some were not, without elaborating.

Netanyahu and Hamas both have incentives to keep the devastating war going despite the catastrophic toll it has had on civilians in Gaza and the mounting anger in Israel that the hostages have not been returned and Hamas is not defeated.

The families of hostages have grown increasingly impatient with Netanyahu, seeing his apparent reluctance to move ahead on a deal as tainted by political considerations. A group representing the families condemned Netanyahu's remarks, which it viewed as an Israeli rejection of the latest cease-fire proposal.

“This is an abandonment of the 120 hostages and a violation of the state’s moral duty toward its citizens,” it said, noting that it held Netanyahu responsible for returning all the captives.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his claim that a “dramatic drop” in arms shipments from the U.S. was hindering the war effort. U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday that he doesn’t understand Netanyahu's comments and that Biden has delayed only one shipment of heavy bombs over concerns about heavy civilian casualties.

“There are other weapons that we continue to provide Israel as we have done going back years and years, because we are committed to Israel’s security," Miller told reporters in Washington. "There has been no change in that.”

In its Oct. 7 cross-border assault, Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 people captive, including women, children and older people. Dozens were freed in a temporary cease-fire deal in late November and of the 120 remaining hostages, Israel says about a third are dead.

Israel's retaliatory war has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. It has sparked a humanitarian crisis and displaced most of the territory's 2.3 million population.

Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee contributed from Washington, D.C.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip to a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, June 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Jehad Alshrafi)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and demanding elections, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

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Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug

2024-07-16 02:18 Last Updated At:02:21

TROON, Scotland (AP) — Of all the recent traditions in the Royal & Ancient game, what Brian Harman took part in on Monday afternoon might be the least enjoyable.

Returning the claret jug.

The formal handover of the British Open trophy required a little pomp. Harman was in the back seat of an SUV. The destination was not much longer than the 40-foot birdie putt he made last year on the 14th hole on his way to winning the Open. But he had to wait for the film crew to be set, for the traffic on the road to clear.

“It's all yours,” Harman told Martin Slumbers, the R&A CEO who took back golf's oldest trophy that apparently has seen its share of the finest wine and bourbon in the year since Harman won at Royal Liverpool.

Harman is a straight shooter — with a rifle, with his mouth and last year with his putter — but a staged moment as this didn't bother him.

“In my opinion, it's the coolest trophy in all of sports,” Harman said. “So I think it's deserving of all of the pageantry that's involved with it."

Getting it back by the end of the week is the real challenge.

The homecoming of the claret jug was an unofficial way to launch the start of the final men's major of the year. The 152nd Open Championship begins Thursday on the Scottish links along the Firth of Clyde on the Irish Sea.

Royal Troon is renowned for its pot bunkers that are so deep they effectively serve as a one-shot penalty when tee shots find them on the longer holes. The outward holes are shorter with the prevailing wind, the inward holes are longer and into the wind.

“You have to take them on,” Scottie Scheffler said.

Harman had gone six years without a win until putting together a masterpiece last year to lead over the final 51 holes and win by six. He hasn't won since then, a matter of getting his putter to cooperate. He hopes that's the case this week.

“You can work and work and work. You just never know when that work is going to pay off,” Harman said. “You never know when the peak is coming. You never know when you’re going to catch a little bit of momentum. So you just have to hope it’s a big week.”

No one has won back to back in the British Open since Padraig Harrington in 2007 (Carnoustie) and 2008 (Royal Birkdale). Go back to 1960 and the list of repeat winners includes only Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer.

“A little sad to give it back, but I’ll remember everywhere it’s been forever,” Harman said. “I’m happy to give it back, happy to be here. Ready to get going.”

Royal Troon is green and lush, and the rough is particularly thick at the base of turf. This isn't likely to be a bright and sunny week along the Ayrshire coast, and the links have been busy.

Woods arrived Sunday and went 18 holes, spending much of his time chipping and putting. His son Charlie is not with him, instead at home preparing for the U.S. Junior Amateur next week outside Detroit.

Scheffler got into the competitive spirit, playing alongside Sam Burns as they took some cash from PGA champion Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

After handing off the jug, Harman headed out to see Royal Troon for the first time. Monday was largely a day of reflection and he was eager to move forward.

But it was a good year, even without another win. He took the jug to Georgia Bulldogs football and Atlanta Braves baseball games. He took it everywhere he could, a reminder of reaching the pinnacle of his sport.

“You never know how it’s going to go, but just the reception from everyone back home was overwhelming, just how excited everyone was,” he said. “I was obviously very excited, but to be able to share that excitement with people that I care about was probably the best.”

Harman was among several players who came across the coast from the Scottish Open last week, a list that included Robert MacIntyre, though his immediately whereabouts could not be confirmed. MacIntyre won the Scottish with an eagle-par-birdie finish and promised he would “celebrate hard” as the first Scot to win his national open in 25 years.

He was scheduled for a press conference Monday afternoon. It was rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. That was a big win for him. Next up is one even bigger.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

Justin Thomas of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 5th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Justin Thomas of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 5th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays of of a bunker on the 14th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays of of a bunker on the 14th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Xander Schauffele of the United States tees off from the16th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Xander Schauffele of the United States tees off from the16th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods, center, watches US golfer Justin Thomas, right, during a practice round ahead of The Open at Royal Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (Steve Welsh/PA via AP)

Tiger Woods, center, watches US golfer Justin Thomas, right, during a practice round ahead of The Open at Royal Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (Steve Welsh/PA via AP)

Tiger Woods of the United States puts on the 10th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States puts on the 10th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States chips onto the 6th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States chips onto the 6th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 18th green at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 18th green at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 2023 Open Champion Brian Harman of the United States speaks during a press conference at the media tent for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 2023 Open Champion Brian Harman of the United States speaks during a press conference at the media tent for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

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